I spent two years collecting Post-Doctoral Training hours at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, CA. While I worked there I was able to be influenced by many talented clinicians and many people walking through the doors working on their recovery. One of the things that I learned that really helps a person to stay sober- from a newcomer or a chronic relapser- is to know the difference between your “addict” thoughts and your “recovery” thoughts.
There was a quote I saw on one clinician’s wall, “The tricky thing about addiction is that it lies to you in your own voice.”
And think about it. If you are in recovery, or know someone who is, “The tricky thing about addiction is that it lies to you in your own voice.” Gosh! This statement really emphasizes why it is tricky to stay sober.
Two of the most common, almost stereotypical ways I have seen people “lie to themselves” is the following statements:
“My problem is with _________ (let’s say cocaine) so I can ___________(smoke marijuana or drink alcohol) because that is not what my problem is.”
Reason This is Problem Thinking:
There is a concept of cross-addiction. If you use mind altering substances to avoid the uncomfortable feelings inside of you, you will likely switch from one substance to another as a way to avoid. You may not be physically addicted yet, but the chances of you falling back into this maladaptive pattern are really high! This allows the door of the “caged addict self” to open, and well, as many of you know, this door is the doorway to Pandora’s Box.
“I can have just one and use moderately.”
Reason for the Problem:
A person with a true addiction cannot go back to using moderately. This is not to say that all people cannot go back. There are some people that abuse heavily and are able to moderate. There are other people that truly have the disease of addiction and it is a life or death situation and they tried moderation and it nearly killed them. For these people, a thought like this could have deadly consequences if taken seriously.
This thought makes me think of some great sayings in the 12 Step Programs. One is “one is too many and a thousand is never enough.” Another saying is “it is the alcoholic and addict’s obsession to want to use normally.”
If you know in your heart that you truly have an addiction, I strongly recommend learning the difference between addiction and recovery thinking!